Enough already

September 30, 2011

Federal Environment Minster Tony Burke’s Sept. 29 announcement that the Dargues Reef gold mine at Major’s Creek near Braidwood will go ahead is hardly surprising. Both the ALP and the Coalition    show their unconditional love and support for the mining industry at every turn, regardless of the impacts or potential impacts mining activities have on our air, land and water.

Why do we need to keep mining gold? According to World Gold Council figures (August) there were 30,700.1 tonnes (officially) held in bank vaults. The main beneficiaries from a proposal like  Dargues Reef are the proponents and shareholders. The Greens are calling for gold to be included in any resources tax, and so it should be. When water supplies may be irrevocably affected, isn’t it time we asked ourselves what is more important – wealth for a few or guaranteed water and food for many? Like coal, gold should be left in the ground.

The Australia Institute (TAI) revealed in its research paper Mining the facts that the mining industry ran a $22 million ad campaign against the Resources Super Profits Tax which would have netted the government $200 billion. The new Mineral Resource Rent Tax will raise $38.5 billion which represents an equivalent of a 730,000% return on the $22 million investment for the mining industry.

As if that wasn’t enough, coal-mining industry spin can now be experienced in full cinematic splendour with pre-movie ads personalising mining and portraying it as caring about water use, but ignoring any issues like loss of prime farmland, greenhouse pollution or ill-health arising from coal-mining, and all this at a time when 70% of NSW (55 million hectares) is covered by mining licences and applications.

In 2008-09, the average rate of corporate tax paid by the mining industry was not the theoretical 30% but 13.8%, due to generous tax deductions (ref. TAI). Thanks to mining industry spin, public perceptions about the benefits of this industry, compared to the reality, are very different. It’s time we woke up as a nation and said, enough already!

(as printed in The Canberra Times, September 30, 2011)

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